The pre-season is well underway and some interesting stores are developing. The early days of camp with a focus on prospects are done and many cuts have taken place. The stretch run of camp is where things start to fall into place and line combinations become clearer. We will be adjusting our predictions through the start of the season and we will note significant changes for injury or other reasons. Here is a quick rundown of some interesting developments around the league.
Last night’s wild 70’s style melee will have a significant cost as David Clarkson lept over the bench when John Scott “jumped” Phil Kessel. An automatic ten game suspension is the price of a questionable decision by the veteran and we have lowered his projection to (71-23-14-37). Kessel initially defended himself against his much bigger (6′ 8″) opponent swinging his stick freely earning a game misconduct for intent to injure. It remains to be seen whether further punishment will be given.
Sam Gagner is gone indefinitely with a broken jaw. We have lowered our projection to (57-13-29-42). He joins Ryan Nugent Hopkins on the sidelines with Taylor Hall skating at center. Now there is talk of Jordan Eberle doing the same thing, a disturbing turn of events, that may prompt them to look for outside help. Let the rumours begin. Poor Ales Hemsky who is lining up on the top line with Hall and Ryan Smyth in pre-season can never find peace. In another noteworthy Oilers development David Perron was flying in early pre-season.
Claude Giroux plans to return soon and should be ready to start the season. He has proven to be quick healer and has not missed much time but a lot, if varied, of health issues in quick order has the antenna up.
An interesting training camp battle is brewing between Mikael Granlund (3-0-2-2, +1) and Charlie Coyle (3-2-1-3, +2) for second line center in Minnesota. Both are enjoying strong camps.
Jussi Jokinen made a strong case for who lines up on the other wing with Malkin and Neal each contributing two assists to his natural hat trick in a 5-3 loss on Saturday. Beau Bennett is eyeing the same opportunity following a good turn in that role on Thursday but not scoring. I like what Jokinen brings at both ends of the ice and his ability to free up the snipers. Fragility should be screaming caution but becoming an intriguing value pick if he sticks. We will adjust points if it continues to look good.
A natural center Mika Zibanejad is playing right wing on a line with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur. If he is to earn a top six role it will be on the wing.
A charming story finds Martin Brodeur joined by his son Anthony in the New Jersey training camp. New Jersey is a class organization that should never be underestimated.
Damian Brunner is fighting for a roster spot in the Devils camp.
Nathan MacKinnon has suffered a hip flexor injury but is not considered serious. Colorado is being careful.
Jonathan Drouin has been playing center in camp and centered prospects Valdislav Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov in his pre-season debut. Coach Cooper wants to try him in the middle to allow him to handle the puck more than he would have an opportunity to on the wing. He played left wing with Nathan MacKinnon in Halifax but did fill in at center when MacKinnon was injured. Hard to imagine the Bolts can resist trying him with Stamkos and St. Louis at some point.
An intriguing line in Nashville has their best young scoring threat Colin Wilson lining up with newcomers Viktor Stalberg and Matt Cullen.
Sheldon Souray out for two to three months with right wrist surgery.
Alexei Emelin is out indefinitely for Montreal.
Cal Clutterbuck on the New York Islanders is out for four to six weeks with a lacerated leg.
Sam Gagner is out indefinitely with a broken jaw
Recent 13-14 Projection Adjustments
Sam Gagner (57-13-29-42)
Joni Pitkanen (0-0-0-0)
Paul Ranger (70-6-19-25)
Cal Clutterbuck (60-9-11-20)
David Clarkson (71-23-14-37)
Paul Martin (73-4-26-30)